BCCC honors nursing students at pinning ceremony

— Mary Ihezie and Rapheal Olumakinde were among the 25 nursing students honored at the Baltimore City Community College’s pinning ceremony for the Class of Fall 2016 on December 20, 2016. Among the graduating class, 17 associate degrees and eight Practical Nursing certificates were conferred.

BCCC Associate Degree in Nursing graduate Rapheal Olumakinde with his wife, Temmy and new son, Saint.

Courtesy Photo/BCCC

BCCC Associate Degree in Nursing graduate Rapheal Olumakinde with his wife, Temmy and new son, Saint.

For Mary Ihezie, it was a chance to become a registered nurse (RN) after working for some time as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). With her degree, she will pursue her interests in either psychiatric or obstetric nursing after she takes the state board exams to earn an RN license.

“For me this is not just a job, but a lifestyle,” she said. “Education is abundant in my family and we take it seriously.”

Ihezie plans on staying in Maryland as she seeks to join the busy corps of practicing healthcare professionals in this area.

For Rapheal Olumakinde, it’s the culmination of years of interest in the healthcare field, which became crystallized when he attended a nursing orientation session BCCC. With his newfound credential, which took him a little over two years to complete, Rapheal will build on his experiences in CPR and as a correctional officer with the State of Maryland, to transition into emergency room care.

“I like the dynamics, I guess it’s the adrenaline of delivering direct care which can make a difference in the life of a patient and bring calm to a dire situation,” said Rapheal.

Now that he is a new father, he says his advancement in this field will help him to support his growing family. He plans to continue working toward his bachelor’s and master’s degrees with the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse practitioner, a more advanced level in the profession, which carries administrative responsibilities.

“My husband loves God and is devoted to his family,” said his proud wife, Temmy.

BCCC offers a two-year, associate’s degree in nursing and a shorter, three-semester practical nursing certification. Both programs are designed to provide first-generation college students in Baltimore City with the opportunity to prepare for a knowledge-based career. The associate degree program, is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN); both the associate degree and certificate programs are approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing.

Congratulations to all Class of Fall 2016 graduates!

STEM program at BCCC positions students for success

— West Baltimore native and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute graduate Brittany Young struggled during her first year of college at the University of Maryland but that didn’t keep her from participating in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) revolution and becoming a leader in her field.

Kirenia Sera-Viguera grew up in Cuba and had to learn English from scratch, but she tapped into math and science to garner one of the top 10 spots in her graduating class at Patterson High School, enroll as a STEM Scholar at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) and become an accomplished student of architecture at Morgan State University.

Shalini Malaki earned her associate’s degree in biotechnology at BCCC and a bachelor of science degree in medical and research technology at the University of Maryland Baltimore before attaining her master’s in public policy from Georgetown University. She has conducted virology research in hopes of stopping a deadly form of typhoid fever in her native country of Nigeria.

Young, Sera-Viguera, and Malaki couldn’t have hailed from more different circumstances or places. Yet, their unlikely paths would cross for a brief moment at BCCC’s supercharged math and science cohort.

The three united again on Saturday, November 12, 2016 for BCCC’s 4th annual STEM Community Day, a host venue for the second statewide Maryland STEM Festival. The three-hour event included a panel discussion on which they were invited to share their experiences and success.

So what’s it like to be a woman in this very male-dominated field?

“People’s expectations are we’re not a good fit,” Brittany said of her experience with being a woman in a male-dominated field. But to her, the terrain is not unfamiliar. “I had people telling me I couldn’t do stuff since I was in first grade. If I let that discourage me, I would have dropped out of the University of Maryland.”

The first year of college was tough for Brittany. She ended up with a 1.1 GPA at College Park. But she enrolled at BCCC and proceeded to do some amazing things: internships and job experiences at McCormick & Co., NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She had the opportunity to conduct satellite and planetary research. In fact, she was the intern who discovered the Mickey Mouse feature on the planet Mercury.

The story was the subject of a Jeanne Moos TV report on CNN and made major media around the world. Today, she has come full circle, working to bring STEM concepts to the dirt bike culture in Baltimore for creative applications, video games and other resources local bikers might find interesting. She hopes her work will contribute to increase interest in pursuing STEM careers among young people West Baltimore.

“English was not my first language so that was a big challenge,” Kirenia said. “But I got through that because my real interest was math and science. I think the biggest thing is time management. That’s very important to my success.”

Kirenia finds herself constantly engaged by her study program at Morgan State to produce architectural models and recommendations using actual parcels of land slated for development. She even acquires old houses as investments with her father, the interiors of which she completely demos and remodels. She knows how to remediate lead paint in old houses and sometimes does this for charity. All in all, it has made for a busy life.

Shalini reflected how her science education and public policy degree might be regarded as vastly different undertakings, but it was all in the interest of public health.

“At first sight it might seem my degree in Biotechnology, a hard science and my degree in Public Policy, a social science are an unlikely pair,” Shalini said. “However, the pressing needs of international development and global health require an understanding of biological events in order to help shape effective social and policy-related responses.”

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated number of STEM jobs in the U.S. is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, to nine million positions.

BCCC is a growing provider of STEM training and transfer education. Students can earn a two-year associate degree in Robotics Technology, Engineering Transfer and Biotechnology. BCCC launched its new Cyber Security and

Assurance associate degree and certificate programs in response to the burgeoning demand for experts in data security.

Through these programs, BCCC students can transfer to a four-year institution or immediately enter the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for entry-level cyber security professionals starts at approximately $88,000.

Last year, BCCC received a $750,000 grant from the NASA Minority University Research and Education Project. The goal of the grant is to increase the number of STEM classes available at minority-serving community colleges and to provide STEM educator training. BCCC plans to use the $750,000 to increase the success rate and workforce development of underrepresented students such as women, African Americans and disadvantaged veterans enrolled in its engineering-related programs.

Wes Moore urges more advocacy, experiential learning for young people

White House Fellow, Army veteran, best-selling author and social entrepreneur Wes Moore gave a rousing talk at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Wednesday, January 13, 2016, as he called on educators to combine advocacy, mentorship and social capital to move inner-city youth forward in a challenging age.

“How can we give more students the advocacy, and get more institutions to graduate students?” Moore asked members of the audience, comprised of faculty and staff of the college who came together for a day of staff development prior to the start of the spring semester.

“This is what led us to found BridgeEdU (www.bridgeedu.com)” he said, describing the program he started to assist young people to make the transition from high school to college, provide experiential learning through internships and ensure success by democratizing the pathway to college completion.

Moore, author of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, “The Other Wes Moore” spoke of his own difficulty early in life finding a path.

“What did I want to do? I didn’t have a context,” he said. “I realized it was all about finding a way to gain experiences which could connect with my true passions.” And connect with those passions he did— as a Johns Hopkins University Phi Beta Kappa graduate, Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, and White House Fellow serving former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Before this foray into the arena of peacemaking, he was an Army combat veteran in Afghanistan.

“Getting our kids into the game is more than just education,” he said. “It’s also about the critical relationships they will need. This social capital has to be developed, nurtured and accelerated.”

Seniors return to BCCC Dental Hygiene Clinic for free preventive care

— The annual push to provide free preventive dental health services to area seniors 62 and over made for a busy week at the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Dental Hygiene Clinic. Between October 19 and 23, 2015, the clinic handled 34 appointment slots for a total dispensation— using the average insurance reimbursement rate in the city of Baltimore— of approximately $13,352 worth of patient services, or $392 per person registered.

According to Kimberly Erdman, RDH, PHDHP, M.S.D.H., coordinator of the clinic and assistant professor of dental hygiene at BCCC, the Senior Week effort represents an important public health initiative as many diseases can go undetected until they are first revealed during a routine oral health exam.

“We try to be thorough,” Erdman said. “Patients received free medical history and blood pressure screenings, oral cancer exams, x-rays, complete periodontal evaluations, dental/cavity exams, cleaning of dentures and partials, oral prophylaxix (dental hygiene cleaning), fluoride treatments and oral hygiene instructions. We also like to provide tobacco cessation and nutritional counseling.”

To evangelist Lorena Snow of Baltimore, a gospel singer who has acquired the nickname, “Mahalia Jackson” by members of her church, the BCCC Dental Hygiene staff does a beautiful job. “I’ve been coming here for several years and I love everything about it!” she said, motioning toward her hygienist, Dental Hygiene student Olga Pach of Essex, Md. “And [BCCC Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene] Terry Doty is a great instructor!”

Denise Lorick of Baltimore was similarly impressed. She got her x-rays, cleaning and oral cancer exam from Reena Delrahim, BCCC Dental Hygiene student from Pikesville, Md., who on this particular day promoted the event to Denise as part of a community service requirement in the program. Denise needed little persuading, though, as she has been coming to the clinic for 11 years. “Dental hygiene is great here,” she said. “They have all the right services and they take great care of your mouth.”

For Dental Hygiene student Kristina Savage, a Carroll County resident who became interested in the field after shadowing dental hygienists in various settings, the opportunity to practice the craft in a public health, practice or teaching capacity is especially appealing. Upon completion of her BCCC studies she will take the board examination and pursue her licensure to become a dental hygienist.

Louise Gross, Kristina’s patient who has been participating in Senior Week for several years and visits the clinic twice per year says, “They do impeccable work – scaling, cleaning, everything!”

BCCC Dental Hygiene student Victoria Moran didn’t have to look very far for her patient— her father, Marty Moran.

“They do a very thorough cleaning, probably the best one I have ever had!” Moran said, to the smiles of his daughter.

“I needed his mouth!” said Victoria who became interested in dental hygiene after developing a knack for the work and owing to the fact that the field offers flexibility and a hot job market for those with as little as two years’ training.

According to Erdman, you need at least an associate degree to become a dental hygienist. Practitioners in the field typically take a written exam upon completion of their initial degree as well as a clinical dental hygiene exam and a law exam.

“Then you can obtain a license, which allows you to practice,” she said.

“There are lots of jobs in dental hygiene,” she continued. “From marketing and sales-related positions on the business side of the house to practice consultants, all of whom typically need a bachelor’s degree, to public health clinicians and educators, who usually have a master’s degree.”

Student credits BCCC entrepreneurship program for getting job

— When Petra Gonzalez moved to Baltimore with her family from Titusville, Florida, she got a quick start at Baltimore City Community College pursuing her interest in early childhood education. She was also able to find work as a housekeeping staff member in the college facilities department.

Under the guidance of BCCC Assistant Professor Cortez Walker, coordinator of the Business Administration, Management and Marketing programs at BCCC who helps oversee the Passport Student Leadership/Entrepreneurship Development Program, Petra began to grasp how she could someday own and operate her own daycare center.

Petra, who graduates from BCCC in December with an associate degree in Early Childhood Education, says the Passport program’s regular presentations from Small Business Administration speakers and other experts helped solidify her understanding of how to strike out on her own.

“I needed ideas,” she said. “The Passport program connected me to some practical advice on how to turn my interests into a realistic business model.”

Student participants in the Passport Program meet once per month during the school year to discuss a specific topic including learning leadership skills, entrepreneurship success factors, financial literacy and how to create wealth. Speakers have included Victor Clark Jr., director of Small Business Development for the State of Maryland, and several speakers from the Baltimore District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, who shared perspectives on the agency’s Small Business Assistance programs and other topics.

“This is an extracurricular activity available to all students,” says Professor Walker. “Those who participate in the entire program will receive a Leadership/Entrepreneurship Certificate which can be used when transferring to a four-year college or university, or applying for a job in a business, nonprofit or governmental organization,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Celebree Learning Centers was so impressed with Petra and the level of expertise she acquired at BCCC that they offered her a job, not just as an aide, one of the usual ways you start at Celebree but as a Lead Teacher. Congratulations, Petra!

For more information about how to kick-start your career and build valuable contacts and ideas through the Passport Entrepreneurship at BCCC, email:

Professor Cortez Walker at cwalker@bccc.edu or 410-462-7695.

Student techs pack STEM Community Day at BCCC

BCCC welcomed student science and math wizards and their variety of fascinating projects on Saturday, November 22, 2014 to the college’s second annual STEM Community Day. In addition to drawing some 300 attendees from BCCC and the Baltimore community, the occasion was the perfect opportunity for students to meet with representatives from area colleges and universities, companies involved in the STEM fields and BCCC STEM faculty and staff.

John Lucas, a military veteran who drove a truck for 15 years before enrolling in the STEM Scholars program, plans to use what he learned at BCCC to attend the University of Baltimore. Raphael Outlaw, vice president of the student Engineering Club, attended no formal high school before enrolling at BCCC but says the STEM Scholars gave him much-needed direction.

For more information about the BCCC STEM Scholars program, where students are eligible for up to $4,150 per academic year in scholarships, contact Professor Marianna Gleger at 410-462-7790.

Chairs full during BCCC Dental Hygiene Clinic Senior Week

It was a busy week for students in the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Dental Hygiene Program as the annual event where free preventative dental care is provided to area seniors.

Each October, as part of National Dental Hygiene Month, BCCC holds a Senior Week community outreach event to seniors 62 and over who stop by the Dental Hygiene Clinic for free cleanings, oral cancer exams and x-rays. The event is an important public health project and often plays a role in early diagnosis of more serious conditions.

To visit or make an appointment with the Dental Hygiene Clinic, call Grace Simmons at 410-462-7712.

China Day at BCCC Marks Annual Heritage Day Observance

— Over 200 students and members of the community came to the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Fine Arts Theatre on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, to focus on China, the world’s most populous nation and the subject of this year’s BCCC International Students Club (ISC) Heritage Day observance.

The occasion featured the highly regarded Chinese Youth Club Lion Dancers from Washington, D.C., a Kung Fu performance and Chinese history video followed by a colorful dance and fashion show put on by ISC members and young students from Baltimore International Academy.

W. Fontaine Bell, director of the Maryland-China Business Council and chair of the Baltimore-Xiamen Sister City Committee, spoke about current issues in the United States and China relationship, China’s wildly growing economy and prospects for reform of its centralized political system.

“The importance of China to the 21st century economy cannot be understated,” Bell said. “And it’s great we have a community college focusing on these matters at the level we see here today.”

The event was followed by traditional Chinese cuisine provided by China Max, replete with fortune-cookie sendoffs.

STEM Community Day at BCCC draws techies, techies-to-be

— Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) held a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Community Day, Saturday, November 23, 2013 on the Liberty Campus where area residents had a chance to participate in robotics and modern machine operations demonstrations including a 3D printer, programming and STEM information sessions.

The event drew a large turnout from area high schools including a robotics team from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and area teenagers’ robotics clubs. BCCC STEM scholars studying under a National Science Foundation grant joined participants in the College’s Upward Bound Math-Science program and Year Up, a community college pilot at BCCC. Year Up offers young people ages 18-24 the opportunity to earn college credit and receive professional and technical skills training, personal development coaching and access to Fortune 500 Company internships, some of which turn into full-time jobs.

Leading Baltimore area companies including Lockheed Martin, Amtek Company, Mary Kay, the Maryland Transit Administration, and i-Trek, a nonprofit devoted to increasing the number of under-served and under-represented students in STEM. They provided informational tables as representatives from Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and Capitol College— BCCC partners in the STEM effort— gave guidance and presentations.

“This was an excellent opportunity not only for high school students and the citizens of Baltimore City to explore options at BCCC, but to transform and change their careers,” said Professor Marianna Gleger, coordinator of the BCCC STEM Scholars program.

BCCC is a growing provider of STEM training and transfer education. Students at the college can earn a two-year associate degree in Robotics Technology, Engineering Transfer or Biotechnology. In the fall of 2012, the National Science Foundation awarded BCCC a five-year, $599,995 grant to fund scholarships which pay up to $4,150 per academic year to students studying any of these growth-oriented fields.

The program’s additional benefits for students include participation in conferences and field trips, opportunities to lead activities during BCCC’s College wide Math Awareness Week, and internships through an on-campus job developer.